Home AnimalsThe World’s Most Intelligent Animals
AnimalsBy Joe Burgett -

There are some animals out there that make some incredibly dumb decisions, making you question their sanity and common sense. Yet there are others that are considered to be very smart and tend to show this on a regular basis. In fact, some of the most intelligent animals on the planet are known for doing some brilliant things. For example, some have been known to save the lives of human beings even when they do not have to. Others open up hard husks or fruits better than humans. Meanwhile, some are geniuses in combat or movement, making it harder to kill or keep caged. Heck, some even learn sign language to speak with humans.

There are obviously exceptions to every rule. There could be a particularly smart species with a few bad apples that show a lack of proper intelligence. Meanwhile, you could also see some incredibly intelligent animals come from a species that is not usually considered a smarter species. However, our focus is going to be mostly on the species overall. What have they done to show they are smart? We wanted to measure this beyond our human level of what is considered intelligent. Rather, we wanted to consider what they are doing and see if it generally gets the job done in the best way the species could handle it. A lot is being considered beyond this, but the important part is that the species shows it is among the most intelligent animals on the planet.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Bees

You’d be surprised how intelligent bees are. Many feel they are just some small insects flying around trying to protect their honey. Yet this is not actually true, especially since not all bees are surrounded by honey all the time. There has been significant research into the intelligence of bees over the years.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: New Scientist

The Queen Mary University of London found in their experiment that bees can learn from their environment when gaining a reward for right and wrong moves. On top of this, they will teach other bees to do the same things. If that did not impress you enough, honey bees release a type of gas when they die that other bees will note.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: New Scientist

The Bees will then remove the dead bee from the hive. They even have something known as a “waggle dance,” which is a symbolic language of movement. It tells other bees about a direction, distance, and even the quality of specific nectar. Their communication with each other is incredible to see.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Common Dog

Man’s best friend has been by our side pretty much since the world can remember. The overall canine species drifted a bit in evolution, leading to the numerous dog type we see today. They eventually became good friends with mankind, making dogs feel like they needed to aid humans by instinct.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Dog Town East Powell

On top of this, they realized that if they did as we asked, they’d be rewarded. As a result, dogs have been super easy to train compared to other animals. Mankind has utilized the species for centuries and still do to this day. They are used for pulling sleds, hunting, and gathering.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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However, they are also very well known for being protective and territorial. Dogs are among the most intelligent animals for several reasons. Likely the most obvious case of this is how they can handle pretty much anything thrown at them, adapt to it, learn it, and counter it. That’s genius-level stuff!

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Rats

While Rats are not the most beloved creatures on the planet, they have proven to be quite intelligent. New Yorkers will likely tell you vast stories about how they have seen rats in the street carrying random items that make no sense. Not to be confused with mice, rats are quite a bit larger on average. They are capable of thinking a lot like humans at times too.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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When it comes to organization, handling their dead, as well as how to collectively achieve tasks….they can do quite well in most tests. They are also capable of living in several different conditions from warm to cold temperatures, making them one of the most widespread creatures on our list.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Conversation

While we may not like them very much most of the time, it is clear that rats are among the most intelligent animals on Earth today. Their ability to organize and handle complex issues in major cities, escape harm, and pretty much do it by the day without fail is clearly commendable.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Ducks

Sadly for us, not all ducks are going to look and act like Daffy from the Looney Tunes. Duck season limited that ability for us, we’re afraid. Not for nothing, the overall species of duck might not all look the same. However, they are all relatively smart and well worth investing time and energy in watching when you get the chance.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Wide Open Pets

They might hang around the water a lot, but they do so for obvious reasons. When it comes to intelligence, the Ducks are among the most notable. Chicks will follow anyone they consider to be a mother or mate, without fail. Therefore, they have a commitment ability similar to humans. Actually, they might be better at it than us.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Time

They are territorial, but also can manage to know when and where their chicks or environment is safe. They can also understand basic directions, figure out patterns, and they are even quite social with humans if treated right. Ducks can even communicate in ways humans can understand them if they are taught early.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Golden Eagles

It has been said time and time again how incredible Golden Eagles are. Not only are they predatory birds who can pick up small mammals, even human babies if you’re not careful, they are also very smart. We know this because humans have worked with the species for centuries. In fact, we utilized them as pets and they even helped us with hunting as well as wars in the past!

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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They are brilliant tacticians, known for hunting in the daytime to use the sun to blind their prey. Golden Eagles also use stealth tactics to hunt. This is the same type of tactic that humans utilize when hunting as well, thus a big reason why they have been so helpful for hunters for centuries.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Telegraph

They’ll even find routes that prey can use to evade capture or death and utilize that knowledge to cut off any means of potential escape. This type of tactical cunning is only found among the smartest birds and humans. Thus, Golden Eagles are clearly one of the most intelligent animals in the world.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Pigs

It is said that we have a lot of similarities to pigs. Nursing students often work with pig-skin as it is a similar texture and thickness to our own. We even use part of the pig, such as valves, to substitute our own during heart surgeries. Yet they are also among the most intelligent animals on the planet.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Scientific American

Not only are they able to understand and solve complex problems, but they are also incredibly trainable. In fact, they are more trainable for humans than dogs or cats. Making them the smartest domestic creature in existence today. We say domestic because normal pigs are mostly born & found in captivity, with small pockets of wild pigs spread throughout the world.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: National Hog Farmer

On top of this, while Pigs do not enjoy fetching a newspaper or anything like that, they can and will do pretty much every task that dogs can do. Sometimes, they can even do it better with less trouble involved. They also like to imprint, making them extremely loyal and will defend humans if needed.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Octopus

It has been said for years that your common octopus is extremely smart. Their intelligence has been tested multiple times, with similar conclusions being reached every time. They are able to solve complex puzzles and find their way out of hard mazes, with progressively difficult standards.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Smith Sonian Mag

Tested Octopi can also remember how they did it once tested in the same mazes or on the same puzzles. However, their memory regarding mazes and puzzles only lasts for a short period of time. It is theorized that while Octopi are capable of handling complex issues, they forget how they solve them after a lack of exposure.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Guardian

In captivity, they are known for plugging up holes in their tanks and causing them to overflow. They theorize it’ll get them out of their specific issue, which is not exactly an unintelligent move. It is also one big reason you should not have an octopus at home. Even zoos find them to be hard to handle outside of an open or large tank system.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Crows

Crows are known for being incredibly smart, and they have been used by humans worldwide for centuries due to it. Just recently, there was a man who used crows to help him recycle. They were rewarded for bringing bottle caps after disposing of them in a specific hole.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Times Herald

A treat was then generated and other crows saw how the first set did it. The first set essentially taught the other crows and then they all began picking up caps too. At least until the treats were gone. They are obviously known for their sense of direction and have carried messages in the past, though this takes a lot of training.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Conversation

Crows are tremendous with their memories, which is not surprising knowing they can remember where to fly in a given situation. However, they can remember human faces, and if a specific person is a threat to them or not. This is something even all humans have not mastered!

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Squirrels

Squirrels can be watched by humans pretty much all over the United States and in most areas around Europe as well. Anyone who has seen a squirrel or group of them will likely be able to see their intelligence in action. They are actually knowing for making some elaborate food burial displays that are present to deceive onlookers, especially predators.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Pbs

Since squirrels are still pretty small and there is a pretty common hunting season many utilize, the species has to know who might be a threat. Therefore, like Crows, they are able to remember faces and note if a person is a threat. This is likely why they have attacked some humans, accidentally confusing them for threats at times.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Nature

However, this is also why some squirrels will come up to complete strangers and especially children at times. In spite of this, they do not make good pets! Having one will make you go nuts!! Sorry, we’ll just see ourselves out now…

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Peregrine Falcon

Like other birds of prey on our list, the Peregrine Falcon is known for being extremely intelligent. They are brilliant hunters yet their sharp eyesight allows them to see an incredible distance away from them. That was used by humans for centuries, as a means to help them spot potential game to hunt or possible enemies they needed to be aware of.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: E Bird

They were used to recover prey or simply hunt for humans, after proper training obviously. This falcon species also has a tremendous memory, allowing them to know human faces and threat level. However, they can do the same with any other animal species too.  These falcons also know when and where to communicate, with some even knowing the loudness they can be to convey warnings.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Manufacturer

Which would prove vast intelligence, not just in communication but in tactics as well. Due to their speed, the Peregrine Falcon has also been capable of delivering warning messages to several people in a short period of time. Such as an army spread out by potentially several miles. It’s not shocking why many believe they are one of the most intelligent animals on the planet.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Most Of The Cat Species

Most of the time, if you’re a cat owner, you know your cat can be affectionate. However, you also know that they can be pretty moody or temperamental too. Cats overall, even predatory cats, have these types of issues. Yet predatory cats like Cheetahs, Leopards, and Panthers are actually a lot like dogs.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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In that, they show affection and will not harm humans they consider friendly. As long as you feed them regularly. Lack of food will make even random dogs attack for food. Of course, we do not recommend you get a predatory cat as a pet any time soon, for obvious reasons. All Predatory Cats (Panthera Family mostly) are crazy intelligent, however.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Popular Mechanics

They can handle complex patterns meant to help them solve how to hunt down animals for food. This also makes them great tacticians too. They are nearly equal to humans in this sector. House Cats have a similar ability, yet they are less common to want to try and attack humans to eat them. Bigger cats might be willing to do so. Yet if fed regularly, most larger cats will only attack humans out of play rather than to eat them.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Raccoons

It has been said for years that raccoons are some of the most intelligent animals around. This might not be as crazy as some might assume. The species has evolved to be capable of living among people and having no issue around human beings, unlike other creatures.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Express News

On top of this, they have hands that are capable of handling several different objects. Raccoons have even proven they can pick locks in the past as well as find exits or entrances that other animals haven’t been capable of doing. There have even been IQ Tests conducted on raccoons to test their intelligence level.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Four Paws

Most of the time, they score high when it comes to finding or creatively altering the way they need to do something. For example, if they need to open something different compared to other objects, they’ll find a creative way to accomplish this. Even if they need to use multiple different ideas or steps to open it.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Pigeons

Most people know how Pigeons have been used by humans for hundreds of years to deliver messages in times of need. One of the biggest times they did this was during major wars, especially during World War I & II periods. They are incredibly smart when it comes to direction and navigation.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A few studies were conducted to see if a Pigeon could find its way home after being taken 400 to 600 miles away. Not only did these tested Pigeons get home, but they also got there faster than most of the humans that tested them. They see color the same way we do too, allowing them to spot potential human victims. In fact, Pigeons have often spotted human survivors of sea incidents better than humans themselves.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Bbc

They can recognize their own reflection, which makes them one of only 6 species that can. Pigeons can even recognize 26 letters of the English language and conceptualize their meaning. Unsurprisingly, Pigeons can also tell the difference between different human beings. This was tested in the physical sense as well as through photographs. This is likely why they could get messages to particular people with such success!

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Ravens

While Ravens have a huge connection to Norse Mythology and Mythology overall, they are also spread around throughout literature too. This is not a shocking thing to see, as they have been among humans for thousands of years. We’ve even utilized them the same way we used Eagles and other predatory birds.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: E Bird

They have passed several logic and theory tests that humans have tested them on. Making them one of the few birds that can claim to have a reasonably high IQ. Scientists also confirmed that Ravens possess the ability and capacity for abstract thoughts. Essentially, they can actually understand what other animals might be thinking or feeling.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Which is another potential reason why they are very trainable creatures for humans. Funny enough, a group of Ravens is known as “an unkindness.” Ravens are often connected to dark or mystical tales, yet they are not some type of gothic bird to fear. Although, they do hold actual funerals for their dead. In any case, an unkindness of Ravens is no more a danger to you than chickens if you don’t threaten them.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
[Image via The Chicago Tribune]

Gorillas

Most of the “Great Ape” species will be on this list for obvious reasons. Human beings recognize intelligence based on their own experiences. Therefore, how we rank intelligence compared to other animals might differ. However, it is due to this that we will see animals such as the Gorilla near the top of our list.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: World Wild Life

Gorillas are incredibly smart creatures capable of emotions exactly like that of human beings. They can even display it the same as we do. We’ve even seen some Gorillas, such as the infamous Koko, learn American Sign Language. Koko was capable of communicating understandable sign language that possesses real and true meaning to what she signed. Meaning she could communicate as effectively as a younger human deaf person who uses sign language.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Ap News

While adult deaf humans will be smarter as they age, the fact that Koko’s intelligence ranks so high is proof that they are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. It is not shocking, as they are part of the Hominid family…just like humans. Coco also displays a knowledge of people indirectly as well as directly. This is why she mourned as a human would when learning the news of Robin Williams’ death. The two met and became friends years prior.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Dolphins

Dolphins are one of the few animals in the sea known for being a friend to mankind. There are several reports of dolphins saving humans from potential sea threats in the past. They are heavily known to be incredible mimics, making them excellent friends to mankind as well as extremely trainable.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: New Scientist

Dolphins are also obviously quick learners, making them often easy to communicate with on an understandable level much quicker than most other animal species. They have also demonstrated true self-awareness, and have shown true emotion for mankind as well as other dolphins. This includes the emotion of joy, sadness, grief, and empathy.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Ny Post

They obviously love to play a lot too, which gives them the energy to play games with humans. When studying them within the games they were playing, dolphins showed remarkable problem-solving skills that they continued to utilize. They even remained conscious of those decisions days after too. Overall, it is a clear fact that dolphins are among the most intelligent animals on the planet.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Parrots

Most parrots are not going to communicate human language back to you. While they can all mimic sound in some form or another, they are not all capable of saying human words. There are three that are notable for this, however. The first is the well-known African Grey Parrot. They show remarkable cognitive abilities.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Conversation

Grey Parrots have even shown the ability to not just repeat words but remember them and use them in proper and specific times. Although this is a toss-up at times and takes proper training. Others such as the Timneh Parrot & Congo Parrot can also speak. The Timneh can learn to speak things like English at a much younger age compared to the Congo.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Since Parrots are vocal learners even among other parrots, they learn literally by hearing and vocalizing things. Therefore, it makes sense as to why they are so good at imitating human languages. While some parrots will just randomly say things, the fact that you can teach many to use language in a proper way is awesome. It clearly makes them one of the most intelligent animals on Earth today.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are not too far off of humans when it comes to pure IQ. Basically, if you are below the age of 12 it is likely that a Chimp could reach your exact intelligence level. Yet this is still quite low for most humans, as our brains and intelligence continue to grow for another decade. Where a Chimp, at best, can reach the Pre-Teen intelligence level.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: Wired

This is still quite impressive, and many of them have the ability to comprehend human emotion displayed by humans. From stress and anxiety to excitement. Mostly because they too display a lot of the same types of traits that we do, being connected in the same Hominid family. Since, like all primates, Chimps have thumbs…they are able to work with tools a lot like humans.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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They are able to solve complex, difficult problems and vocalize how they feel about things to other chimps. This can be done through true vocalization or body language that Chimps learn among their own specific groups. They care for their young a lot like humans and seem to have the same type of pattern recognition abilities humans and other primates possess too. Chimps are certainly among the most intelligent animals on the planet. In fact, on IQ alone, they are technically “the” most intelligent.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Elephants

They say that an elephant never forgets. This is not exactly true, but it’s not too far off. They can remember human beings as well as other animals for a long time. This can be compared to a slight photographic memory, but it will eventually fade. They have one-third the number of neurons on their brain as we do, but everything it used to its fullest.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Elephants are one of the select few members of the animal kingdom that can identify humans and even many other creatures by their age. On top of this, they recognize different languages as truly different from other types they might have heard. This is something even most primates struggle to do. Some can even mimic human voices!

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Guardian

If that is not enough to show why elephants are among the most intelligent animals, they also show and understand complex emotions. Not only can they show empathy on the same level as humans, but they also mourn their dead just like human beings do too. They even use tools, though it might differ from how primates utilize them. Yet the fact that they do actually use them shows a clear intellect that cannot be ignored.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
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Orangutans

Orangutans are known for being troublemakers for zoos, as they have been known to get out of their enclosures quite often over the years. Not only have they been capable of picking locks, but they also communicate with other orangutans or primates regarding their planning. It is said that if you want to know the intellectual differences between a gorilla, chimp, and orangutan, hand them each a screwdriver. Gorilla and Chimps might make a weapon out of it or smash stuff with it.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: The Conversation

Yet Orangutans will often hide the screwdriver and use it as a means for escape. This is pretty incredible to think about, and shows how smart they are. Heck, they know how to use tools yet they also know how to make them too! It is likely that they have to be smart because most orangutans are loners. They do not often hang around in groups for the majority of their lives like gorillas and chimps.  As a result, they have to know how to fend for themselves.

The World’s Most Intelligent Animals
Photo Credit: RD

They know how to hunt or scavenge alone, yet they also have to know how to escape harm. Especially when there is no back-up around to help them out. Some in captivity know how to use computers & most wild or captive orangutans can track down hidden objects. Orangutans can even notice where an object was before it was misplaced. Plus, they have amazing long-term memories that rival even most humans. Clearly, they are one of the most intelligent animals in the world today.

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